In his essay, Richard Rodriguez takes a look at diversity and culture, specifically the American culture and how it affects the culture of others. He also takes into consideration how the term of diversity forces us to look at others differently, furthering separation between one another. After white Americans label someone as “diverse”, as in, nonwhite, they force American ideals and ways onto the people who do not look like them. Eventually, we become the same with a different outward appearance. We may think this is not possible in a society such as America that is known for celebrating diversity and embracing differences, especially when our strongest ideal is putting a focus on the individual. But it is seen every day. Success in America is not even determined by what you do, but by how closely you fit into what whites see as successful.
The idea that each American is an individual also implies that there is no true American culture, which is not the case. If it was we would not be able to easily identify one another as we do. We (we being the American whites) tell those who look or act differently than we do to change themselves, then say they are losing touch with their culture when they do. But culture is not taking off one coat then putting on another, it is more like layers of paint, as you add more you become more vibrant. Every day we take on new cultures, new coats of paint, whether we think we do or not. Culture does not have to be where you come from, but rather where you are currently. Rodriguez also said something that was truly impactful. His idea was that spreading culture is not one-sided, each side gives and takes. It is like the transfer of heat energy, eventually, a middle ground is reached, which is something that I think Rodriguez was trying to say.
Rodriguez describes culture as fluid, as moving and changing, and this could not be any truer than in America. Rodriguez then gives stories of his and others Americanization, how it isolated them from their families, but in an individualistic society, is this not what we wanted? Americans preach diversity, then isolate the diverse and tell them to become like us, then shame them. Then back at home, these people are told by their parents to not behave like an American. How is anybody supposed to balance wanting to adapt to become successful in American society while not losing who they were in the process? It is simple. They do end up losing themselves, at least partly. America is described as a melting pot, a metaphor Rodriguez likes a lot. He says that it implies a sense of losing yourself, you fall in and become part of the melting pot, but he also says that it implies a change, that once you are apart of it you become better. Like the layers of paint, adding more to the pot adds flavor. It adds culture.